U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
News.bytes Extra, issue 392
"Free Spirit" turns 30
Art DiGrazia, operations manager for BLM's Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, recently opened an email from a woman who adopted a wild horse almost 30 years ago:
You asked me if I had selected a name for him during the ordeal. I told you he would be called Free Spirit, to which you responded, "Appropriate name!" You told me he was not a mean horse, just very scared. You also said he would take time and patience to handle. That he did! Although totally blind in the right eye, he went into training as a 3-day event horse. We learned to trust each other.
At age 6, he was diagnosed with a cataract in the left eye. His vision was not the best for jumping and the concern of him or me getting seriously hurt had to be considered. So we stopped jumping and continued with dressage training.
On a trail ride one day, Spirit decided to start jumping over logs rather than step over or go around. He was also getting disinterested in the dressage training. He liked variety. Under the careful guidance of our trainer, we went back to jumping (not cross country). I learned to listen to him. As his eyesight worsened, I adjusted how and what I asked of him. That trust led to success in the show ring in both hunter/jumper and dressage. At age 20, he retired from jumping.
The vets think he has little to no vision out of his left eye and he cannot see in the dark at all. However, he finds his way to his feeder and water in his 1/3 acre pasture. He confidently roams around the property to eat his fill of flowers and green grass. We still go on long trail rides and he loves to be the first one up the hills. My two wolf dogs are his constant companions and playmates. They are comical to watch as Spirit is the instigator in many playtimes -- grabs the tail of one wolf dog and the chase is on.
He is respected, admired, and loved by all that have had the privilege of knowing him. Every trainer we have had has been impressed with his intelligence.
Art adds: "I do remember the horse and how scared the animal was all those years ago, I'm glad the program and the horse has had a positive effect on Danielle's life.
"I receive a number of letters each month about how these GREAT animals have had life changing experiences for folks, whether it be someone who has cancer or another who has a bonding with their animal . I have been the lucky one to meet these folks and share a little of their story."
Below: Danielle and Free Spirit at last weekend's BLM wild horse and burro adoption event in Lakeside. Danielle is holding a BLM Golden Anniversary commemorative medallion presented to her by Art DiGrazia.
BLM-California News.bytes, issue 392
|Last updated: 07-22-2009|